Increasing numbers of young people are joining religious and pseudo-religious sects all over the world. Some of them have completely broken off contact with their families in order to follow the cult leaders. Parents, teachers and members of the church have tried to keep them from joining these groups, often without success. The following text was put out as a leaflet by the University Religious Council at the University of California at Berkeley to be distributed to students as a warning.
vulnerable : easily hurt or harmed
beware of sb.lsth. : be careful of sb./sth.
inappropriate : unsuitable; not genuine
pressure sb. into doing sth.: try to force sb. to do sth.
recruit sb. : get sb. as a member of a group
guilt : feeling that one has done sth. wrong
workshop: programme for group study or work on a special subject goal: aim
heightened suggestibility : erhöhte Aufnahmebereitschaft
foolish: stupid, unwise
thoroughly : completely
be familiar with sth. : have a good knowledge of sth.
affiliation : connection as a member or branch
trust sb. . have confidence in sb.
crisis hot line: direct telephone line to sb. who can help
clergy : Geistlichkeit
Campus Ministry : Universitätsgeistlichkeit
<Understanding the contents
1. The writer of this leaflet suggests that there are moments in our lives when we are particularly sensitive to influences from other people. What situations does he refer to?
2. What kind of people should we be especially careful of in such cases?
3. Why should we have doubts about them?
4. What should we always make sure of before going to meetings with them?
5. Instead of going to strangers for advice when we are in serious difficulties, what would the writer of this text rather see us do?
Analysing the text
6. The writer of this leaflet tries to influence his readers by telling them what to do or how to behave in certain situations: He gives them advice, warns and instructs them. The leaflet is an instructive text; it belongs to the text type* instruction.
What kind of sentences are typical of instructive texts? Find from eight to ten examples.
7. One basic way of structuring texts of this text type is by enumerating or listing the items with no regard to their importance, i.e. by using a simple listing order. Show where the writer makes use of it in this leaflet. What is each of the first five instructions followed by? When two sentences have the same grammatical form, we say they have a parallel structure. They are examples of parallelism. When such sentences also begin with the repetition of the same word or words, we speak of anaphora.
a) Where does the writer make use of these stylistic devices?
b) What effects may these stylistic means have on the reader?
10. The writer of the leaflet can only help people if he can get them interested in reading it. How does he try to give it a certain appeal- apart from the methods discussed above? Study
a) the graphic signs (paragraph length, letter types, punctuation) and
b) the syntactical signs (sentence length and complexity, dominant personal pronoun).
Going beyond the text
11. How would you react to this leaflet?
12. Why do certain people fanatically identify themselves with religious sects or political extremists? Discuss.
13. Is somebody you know, or are you yourself, a member of a youth or other club? Explain why you/they joined, and report on the group's activities to the class.